Did I say that things would get more quite in September? School has been in for nearly 3 weeks, I should be eating bonbons by now.
First, it took a little to get into the school routine. For anyone who thinks you have ‘tons’ of time while the kids are at school, it is actually 9am drop off, 3:40 pickup – a nominal 6h and 40min. So while I’m technically child-free for 6h and 40m lets chop off 10m for the amount of time you need to dwell in the parking lot so you have a spot. This is a *me* thing, I’m more happy and calm with a few min in the car waiting then rushing or getting there late and worrying about running over a kid in the parking lot. Then take out 45min for commutes and you end up with around 5.5hours to get everything done. Don’t get me wrong, every once in a while that feels like an epic stretch of time. Compared to the time I have in the summer or what time I had with 3 at home it is an amazing gift of minutes and seconds to use as I see fit. BUT. They fill up fast especially because everyone thinks you have tons of time since your kids are in school!
Mini rant finished, I used that first week to actually get out from under the laundry and housekeeping backlog, the storage room is no longer a pit of shame, and the garage isn’t exactly clean but it also isn’t a disaster. In the middle of August, I decided that our renter really didn’t need another year of mutual stress – she is really great but the house was a struggle for her and I was along for the ride like it or not. I’m glad I’ve met her, I wish her well, but I also curse her love of double-sided tape that I’ve been scrubbing off the walls. On the plus side, I already have a painter hired, carpets selected, new (to us) dishwasher waiting on an install and more or less the place was ok. This is a project I’m equipped to handle but it is a ton of non-routine work that I’m bumping any fun projects to get done on the timeline.
Fortune (and a good market) is smiling on us because within a day of listing the place (Tuesday) I had 50 people interested, 10 filled in an application, 3 were fantastic and I’ve offered it to the top already with #2 and #3 informed. If anyone is in the position to be listing a place, and, for my future self here is my method this time;
- List on Facebook Market place, Zillow, and Craigs list
- I would note Craigs list is NOT on future lists, 3 inquiries only and nobody followed up by actually filling in a form
- Zillow yielded 3 however, they have a vetting process for renters where they do a background and credit check and keep on file, very nice perk
- Facebook was the majority for sure and ate my time replying to each and every inquiry
- Once they started pouring in I created a Google Form asking for all the info I felt I needed. Key points for me are monthly income and number of people in the house but I also asked all the reference questions etc. I just googled ‘application form’ and typed up a combo of the questions I felt worked for us
- As with any form, do what you can to add a free answer “other” or “anything else” because you would be truly surprised with the great info that comes from asking an open-ended question. My current #1 bumped someone because of their answer to one of those.
- I answered every inquiry with a copy/paste sentence and link about getting lots of interest, please fill in this form (link). This simplified the process because I basically deleted the 50 conversations and relied on the people who cared enough to fill in a form.
- 2 days post I have modified my reply with ‘we have a list of applicants but if you would like to still be considered (form link)’. I’m still getting requests but this makes me feel better just in case my 3 tops fall through.
Even with my streamlined method, I’ve used an hour or so a day working on the computer to manage it all. The process of choosing contractors was straightforward, for me it was a combo of price and timeline, I filled 2 days with research and interviews and got it done. I’ve been going non stop on this since Monday night and I’m taking a break today because I need it but plan to bring it home this weekend as primary prospect is viewing on Wednesday and I want it to be move-in ready.
For my sanity, even though I should have been doing something more productive for my own house, I did this project that has been on the list for 2 months.
Right now it looks pretty normal, framed print, good size, generic frame.
HOWEVER it is actually an Ikea frame that I flipped so the deeper back is facing out and I filled the entire area with cork so I can pin up kid art more easily, and, change with the seasons.
The frame fell in the spring and broke the front glass but the frame was ok. When I got it I intended to change the art frequently, but, the metal pins holding in the back were fragile enough that they started to wear just changing the print once so I don’t feel bad gluing them in place by putting cork on top of the tabs. It cost $12 in cork tiles because I needed two-pack but I like the way it looks and I hope it will function like I want. Making changing art easy will make me actually do it! Prying apart the frame was certainly not easy.
Other than home stuff, #1 has joined a running club 2x a week and likes it. #2 and #3 are in a new gymnastics gym that is really working them hard, both were put up a level and the coach is teaching them a ton already – 90min class and I get 2 sweaty, happy kids. We went to an event 6h away from home so we made a weekend of it and the weather was perfect fall. School Board stuff is back in full swing with committee meetings and obligations that are fun but do eat up the evening. I need to get on the planning of Halloween and all my favorite fall outings, fingers crossed that the house gets rented easily and I can move on to the next thing that may or may not consist of me building something big, the biggest thing I’ve ever contemplated attempting. I’m getting help but it is still a big one!
And now we are up to date in my world of running around. Hope you all are having a productive fall too.
I missed recording a few things in my crazy little life here.
Most importantly; #2 is now 9! As we say ‘It’s time for 9″. She claims she had to wait FOREVER for her birthday and all her friends are older, however, given the number of birthday parties we have attended for her friends this month, she was born peak season. We did another sleepover with a fun painting project to pass the time. All the girls did great with everything and eventually went to sleep. The party was on a Friday night to have a prayer of fitting into graduation/recital season and we actually had everyone attend and the bonus was we still had the weekend. On her real birthday, we had lunch together at school and she skipped jujitsu to hang out with me and then we went for sushi. It was a full day and I think she enjoyed it.
Speaking of parties – in the past 2 weeks, we have had 4 kid birthday parties, a house warming, a bridging ceremony, a graduation, and 2 grad parties that we got to. It has been an intensely social couple of weeks. Most of these were in succession, going from one to the next to the next. A few were concurrent where we dropped a kid at a birthday and went to another celebration and back in time to pick up again. Exhausting but exciting and fun to see so many friends achieving things in their worlds.
The weather… has been a factor in all things. Currently, it is raining, again. Yesterday it was perfect. That is the way, we get a couple gorgeous days and a couple soggy days. I have two lists at all times; things to do outside and things to do inside. It also has been mild to cool here still. I know other places are melting already but we are still using layers. I wonder if I can ever put away all the winter?
Remember when I said I was doing a lot of field trips this month? This past week I went on a 3 day trip ‘up north’ with the 5th grade. It was thoroughly educational and the staff at the place was incredibly good with kids and making science exciting. Every activity had a running dialogue of history and science and social interactions that was like sneaking veggies into a cookie. We spent tons of time in the woods, in the ponds looking at micro-organisms, and even some classroom time. They have a magic formula going up there I’m glad to have participated in. It was worth the time, however, three days away still has a price in things NOT done elsewhere and it was also not exactly relaxing keeping track of 130 kids.
We also got a new minivan. This was a process that spanned about 4 months but we finally got it this Saturday. It is still a little amazing to be in, so new and full of tech to learn. We decided on the Pacifica – great safety and stats – but we needed one that had 6 seats in the back. That turned out to be a special order but it was worth the wait because since we were factory ordering we could get or leave out any option we wanted so no compromises because it was ‘on the lot’. I listed our Oddysey and hope it sells to a nice person. That will be its own post someday because it truly was a good car. We have always done a trade in so it is odd to still have our old car too.
Between parties and rain storms, we have gotten more of the play set up, I added monkey bars and then a flip bar that is both fun and helps keep the system stable. The kids are enjoying it both for its built purpose of swing/monkey bar/flip and also as a centerpiece of imagination games that I can’t even start to describe. Let’s just say my 3 have no shortage of crazy imagination scenarios that they can play all day. This set lures them out of the house. There is still a list of building projects not to mention yard work in general. We did get our yard mowed. Note I didn’t say grass…. we are waiting on the builders to finish some drainage fixes so we didn’t plant yet, however, plenty of volunteer green items were filling the void and we mowed them to a socially acceptable level. Next year we might have grass… maybe.
Sports were dominant this month with #1 doing track and #2 doing softball and #3 doing gymnastics and they were all stacked on Monday and Tuesday making them crazy afternoons. We survived though, the last track meet was Monday and #1 did very well. She was 3rd overall for the 800m and had fun on all her events. Everyone got t-shirts and ribbons and I got to see parent friends from all over I wasn’t expecting. Now we ‘just’ have softball and gymnastics (and jujitsu) but the schedule is much less crazy.
Last but not least, I looked and there are less 2 weeks of school left. This year flew by but we did do quite a lot so we earned our summer. The next 2 weeks are full of end of year things, a final field trip, #2 has a wax museum presentation that parents are invited to, and I need to do one last birthday party.
I’m closing in on 1000 words here so that is plenty to read with your coffee, I will keep ‘blogging’ on my list for inside time and hopefully, I get back to a bit more regular schedule when things click over to summer life.
ps. while uploading pictures I was reminded that I also went to school for their field day, a 5th-grade concert that was actually really good, we dealt with our first major behavior in school issue, we attended the agriculture fair at the high school and got to pet the baby goats and I helped a friend rehab and stage his house to sell – reminding me I don’t really like packing but packing someone else is more fun. Now I don’t feel so bad about the basket of towels that just never seems to get folded.
On Mothers day, a day that was ‘meh’ at best due to a variety of things beyond my control, I went to work on the swing set and decided that I truly did need some bolts and would take myself to the store. At the store, I see a giant banner “11% off all items” and this is the store that just a 5 days previous I got a fairly expensive load of wood. Lucky for me I know they have a form for stuff purchased within 7 days of the sale and so I got the form. Unlucky for me I threw out that very necessary, no replacements accepted, receipt because I decided I needed to clean my car. So, at 9pm at night I went through our trash to find the receipt. Yes, I will dig money out of the garbage. On a positive note between trash day (Tuesday) and mothers day (Sunday) we only generated 1 bag of trash.
This week was pretty crazy and the creep of debris was getting to me so yesterday afternoon, in the 45 min I had at home, I picked up all the litter of school, dishes, laundry, random toys etc. Among these things was a handwritten rough draft of a paper #1 is doing for school. Since I printed out a final copy that morning I felt pretty safe tossing the paper that was due last week and was more or less to prove they started the paper before the day it was due. I’m at my board meeting and actually do not get the frantic series of texts about this draft but when I get home expecting peaceful sleeping children (I can’t say that actually happens but hope eternal) and I get a mess of a tween begging me to help find her draft because the teacher told them that day it was worth 15 points. Yes, I am also the type of person who will go through the trash for homework. 9pm again, going through the trash. It was found, a tad worse for wear but legible, and I put it in a gallon ziplock and wrote a nice note to the teacher. He is new, he is doing his best, I hope trash-draft sticks in his mind as a good reason to give a list of requirements at the start of a project.
Did I enjoy a clean car and clean living room? Yes. I probably will continue to throw away trash and not become a hoarder but I can see where they are coming from…. As a nice side bonus I got a bit of hero status as the mom who will go through trash for her kid, seriously, her happiness is worth way more than $50.
I may continue to monitor our trash production though. I’m probably unnaturally proud that our family of 5 creates only about 1 bag of trash a week and that is before we start compost for the season (I’m behind/don’t wanna decide where to put the heap). All the girls are following suit on reuse and recycle. #1 requested we get thrift store plates for her party so we would not need disposable. #2 requested I get reusable cups for hers. This weekend we had 6 extra kids for a party and we created next to no trash because even though I tried to use disposable forks #3 personally got them from the drawer to make sure we were using washable. Nobody tell them how much energy and water the dishwasher uses but at least we are not filling a landfill.
Fortunately my week was really far better than my two dumpster dives suggests. Super busy with kids, activities and helping friends plus great weather that makes us want to be outside playing. The weather this weekend is supposed to be dreadful so I’ll probably spend some time catching up on chores and then probably going through the trash again for some lost treasure…
Given it is somehow Friday already I am just hitting the highlights. We are in the busy season of life, and, I gave in and each kid has a separate activity so I’m going in 6 directions. I like being busy, it just doesn’t leave too much extra time for online musings.
Right now, #1 is in track on Monday and Wednesday. This *should* have been easy and at her school, however, her session didn’t have enough to run so we moved her to a different elementary school so I need to run her and a friend a few miles ASAP so they aren’t too late. On the bright side, Lars picks her up and the other school is actually closer to our new house and they go directly to jujitsu. She is really into running and I’m glad because it is a life-long thing. I’m also happy that she is meeting other kids in our district so when they all go to middle school together, she already knows some people.
#2 has taken up softball. WTH? there are actually sports I like less, but not many. I have vivid memories of trying to avoid batting or any field position that would actually need to catch or throw for my 12 years where softball was a mandatory segment of our physical education. This is the joy of children; I get a re-do. A no pressure redo at that! I am not playing, she is, and she LOVES it even though she has zero experience. Since she is so into it I’m leaning in and we have a suite of gloves for the family, 4 softballs, a bat, a helmet and a big enough yard that we can practice. It was a little picket fence, American dream moment yesterday playing catch with my girls in the yard in the sunshine on a fresh spring day. Nobody got hit with a ball even! If you are looking for us on Monday or Tuesday evenings they are softball games. If you are looking for us any sunny afternoon, check the yard and our homemade field.
#3 is in love with gymnastics. Tuesday afternoons (before softball) she points her toes and jumps and flips with absolute joy. You would think she would be tired out from an hour of this but it gives her more energy. She was promoted from beginner to intermediate but fortunately, classes are at the same time and day work. Although the gym smells like a sewer mixed with perfume and feet she can’t get enough of it.
Yesterday I went on my first of 3 field trips this month. May is super full because there are 2 or 3 other neat events I’m attending plus the school play. This weekend is a color run, next week is the teacher breakfast and 5th-grade concert. Later in the month is the agriculture fair where the HS students show off all the cute baby goats and chicks. I’m going to be very active in the world so fair warning I might not get it back to here. The field trip yesterday included fire starting a great hike and a canoe ride around the lake. It was exhaustingly good. I did get the reminder that kids scream a lot, and, there are some kids we probably should not teach how to start fires…
My summer building plans are coming along. I’m firm now on my garden structure after many iterations and plans on paper. I believe we now have a plan for a budget-friendly and easy and not ugly garden. I need the weather to cooperate but I’m looking at Sunday. I will be posting if it is a success… The swingset; I ended up going with a kit so not super creative but I’m putting my twist on it. That is also something I’m going to start this weekend, we will pick up ALLLLLL the wood and I want help so have to wait on the husband.
In conclusion, if you are counting; Monday I bring 2 kids to track, then 2 different kids to softball. Tuesday I bring 2 home, then 1 to gymnastics, then home and out again to softball. Wednesday just track and Lars does jujitsu with all 3 of them so I get a break! Thursday Niamh babysits directly after school and I have school board meetings. Friday no reoccurring scheduled activities. This isn’t counting girl scouts or one-off meetings in the month. Good thing I like being busy.
That, and everything in between, about sums up my week last week. Here are the highlights of the fastest week ever because we don’t start slow, we dive in. Also, we fumbled Monday because it was a holiday and felt a lot like a Sunday so it was a busy and short week;
- First day of school! It went well, kids had stuff ready and were super excited to go. So excited they took showers and had dripping wet hair so we had to do some emergency blow drying. Where was the blow dryer? Still in a box, but, we found it. I went with them for the morning to help kids find their way in the new building and it was a joy to see the new building.
- First week of figuring out drop off and pickup and what exactly to do in between. There is not as much time as you think during school but after the longest summer every full of much togetherness, having an hour, followed by ANOTHER hour to do things made me dizzy with possibilities.
- One thing that was top of the list was a set of counter and cabinets that we didn’t have the builder do but needed to be done in order to set the rest of the kitchen up properly. It is not totally done because it does not have the sink and a few details yet but it is done enough for now. I had to really work to make that countertop flush because even brand new houses have non-level walls. Thank you Dad and YouTube. I’ll cut a hole and do the plumbing connections (rough in done by builders) sometime. Knobs are on the way and I have the base molding cut but not painted and shelf hardware but not shelves ready. Getting these guys together, level, anchored and looking good to this point took some time so worth a mention in a post.
- Another top of list item was to sew 3 flower girl dresses for a wedding this coming weekend. I got the cutting out done at a friends house because my sewing stuff was MIA. I ended up needing to do a thorough search and rescue for them though because every other pair of scissors I could find were dull as cspan and when I did find them I literally kissed them. I got through 1.5 dresses last week and today finished the half done one and did another half of the final dress. There is a fit component I don’t want to do until I get the body but then they are home so I don’t have time to do the sewing so they wait until the next chunk of time. All three need a little hand sewing but that is what car rides are for. Ps. Pink satin is not an easy first sewing project for the house.
- Friday I put away all the sewing and got ready for friends to visit from ND. They are the perfect houseguests in general but really perfect first house guests. They don’t care that their bedside tables were boxes. They viewed our blank walls and windows as opportunities to brainstorm solutions and it was a pleasure to have them (even if there was puke. Kids puke as often as cats. Your welcome for your daily dose of birth control)
- The event over the weekend had high points and low. I love to see everyone and I adore the two people that are now on the throne and they made the most gorgeous outfits and presence ever – they set the bar so high. The low was some stupid misses that I’m sure I noticed more than anyone else but I my hands were tied to try and fix it so it just left a bad taste. It was still a good event
- Last but not least, I launched my campaign for school board. After the referendum last year this is way less stress. If I don’t win nothing bad happens like when the levy failed and they had to close an elementary school If I do win I’ll be happy to take my turn on the board and making sure good choices are made for the kids in our community. If any of my readers want to help out my cause here is a link for donations. They are anonymous to others but per laws and stuff if you donate $100 or more I need your name, address etc for the report but I’ll cross that bridge when I come to it. I also went to a school board meeting because I would never ask for a job I don’t have a high awareness of. I can’t believe there are people who run and never come to any meetings?
Now it is a new week and I have a PTO meeting and a fundraising event (for scholarships, not me) and we get to go to a wedding for some of our more fun friends so I’m sure it will be absolutely fabulous.
Three days of summer completed, only 137 to go.
Mostly good so far, we had plans and they kept us busy and I think we are getting used to being around each other 24/7. It has only been the equivalent of a long weekend so I’ll re-evaluate when we get to a week. I’m even preplanning next week, whole days in advance.
So far we have;
Celebrated the first day with a fire and friends and a toast to the summer to come
Had friends over, most notable was a Fiona friend whose birthday we will miss and she missed Fiona’s so we did an un-birthday playdate. Nothing makes a little girl feel special like a personal sized cake. (the pans are from Ikea in the kid section, get them!)
Gone to a friends house, rode bikes around the block and played in the yard, traumatizing the many robins who are nesting.
Procured a summer wardrobe for 3 girls since all their summer stuff is deeeeep in storage (remember originally we were supposed to move in April). We lost shopping patience so I have 2 pairs of shorts beyond the workout bottoms I had kept out. I ended up modifying a t-shirt to be more trendy (and less annoying at the neck).
We are reading more but not getting much other ‘school’ stuff done but it has been a busy few days.
Gone to the gym 2x and the pool once – I’m very hopeful to continue this trend since I’ll get both a kid break and a workout.
Today Lars is taking the girls out and I’m getting all the winter stuff out to storage and starting in on all the decorative things we kept out simply to make the house look good for showing. Yes, I do like how it looks too in a hotel sort of way, but in the interest of getting packed in a non-panic I’ll start round 3 with the less essential items.
We even got in a date night! For the first time in WEEKS Lars and I had an evening with no plans and our sitter was ready and willing so we went out to eat together. This isn’t to say we don’t see each other – about half the time we go to different things in the evening but are back by 8ish and do kid bedtime and then have the evening together, just taking the whole night is special.
Given that it is a holiday weekend it double downs on different from a school week with a day trip on Monday. Zoe already said she has no idea what day it is and might just consider all days between now and school Saturday. Why not?
No real drama yet and I’m glad. We have so many things cooking that I think we will exhaust ourselves – I should really put ‘relaxing’ on the list at some point.
ps. I got my side by side done for the kids, here is beginning of the year and end